October 10, 2008

Pt 1: Battle of the Ecos - For almost two years, the environment -- and especially climate change -- has been near the top of the list of Canadians' concerns. But now, the American economy is on the verge of collapse and it's threatening to take the rest of the world's markets down with it. There's even discussion about how to bail out Canadian banks, should it come to that. In the midst of this, politicians are sensing panic and now the economy is THE issue in the federal election campaign.

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Pt 2: Nowtopia - For North American political junkies, this fall is Nirvana.

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Pt 3: Bird Life International - In this part we listen to David Suzuki's meeting with Rob Butler in Stanley Park. Mr. Butler works for Bird Studies Canada. He's also the Bird Atlas coordinator.

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David Suzuki is our Friday host this week.

It's Friday, October 10th.

After days of being pilloried for being out of touch with Canadians' anxieties over the financial crisis, Stephen Harper's Conservatives are falling in the polls and and see their hopes of winning a majority fading.

Currently, NOW Harper understands your anxiety.

This is The Current.

Battle of the Ecos

For almost two years, the environment -- and especially climate change -- has been near the top of the list of Canadians' concerns. But now, the American economy is on the verge of collapse and it's threatening to take the rest of the world's markets down with it. There's even discussion about how to bail out Canadian banks, should it come to that. In the midst of this, politicians are sensing panic and now the economy is THE issue in the federal election campaign.

So clearly, a lot has changed since the concept of "economy" was first hatched.
Now, with all this talk about the economy, it's worth reminding ourselves where the term comes from and what it meant when the ancient Greeks first conceived of it. So here's Ephraim Lytle with a brief history lesson. He's teaches Hellenistic History and specializes in Ancient Greek Economy at the University of Toronto.

On this show, we also looked at the evolution of the idea of "economy" as well as how Canada should cope with both economic and environmental threats. To do that, David Suzuki was joined by two people.

Peter Victor is one of the pioneers of an idea called "ecological economics." His new book is called, Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster. He was in Toronto. And Jim Gaisford teaches Economics at the University of Calgary and specializes in international trade and the environment. He joined us from Calgary.

 

Nowtopia

For North American political junkies, this fall is Nirvana.

Two federal elections - debates, intrigue, attack ads, gaffes, stern promises that this is the most election in a generation. And amid all the soundbites, overblown rhetoric and earnest punditry, we keep hearing political leaders accusing their rivals of being out of touch with Main Street or not paying attention to the issues that are really important around the kitchen table.

But for some people elections, government and huge bureaucracies aren't where the real political action is it's in community gardens, do-it-yourself bike repair shops and communities of computers programmers collaborating on new software to give away to whoever wants it.

Chris Carlsson - one of the founders of the Critical Mass urban cycling movement - writes about this form of politics in his new book called, Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today. Chris Carlsson joined David Suzuki from San Francisco.

"Think Globally, Act Locally"

Well, 15 or 20 years ago, the catchphrase was, "Think globally, act locally."

To find out more about how that applies today - economically, socially and politically, I'm joined by one of the best-known environmentalists in the United States Bill McKibben. His books include, The End of Nature, and his latest called, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. Bill McKibben joined us from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.


 

Bird Life International

In this part we listen to David Suzuki's meeting with Rob Bulter in Stanley Park. Mr. Butler works for Bird Studies Canada. He's also the Bird Atlas coordinator.

The past decades have seen dramatic changes in bird populations. Birdlife International -- the world's leading authority on the status of birds and their habitats - came out with a stunning report documenting the falling populations worldwide. And the rapid deterioration is affecting all life on earth - including human life.

Bird Populations in Decline

Now, bird populations are in decline all over the world. In Europe, for example, nearly half of the continent's bird populations are in decline. Mike Rands has been documenting the situation. He's the CEO of BirdLife International and he joined us from Cambridge, England.

Pigeons

But while so many of the world's bird populations are dwindling, there's an interesting exception to the rule. In the heart of our cities, Pigeons appear to be thriving. So much so that many people have come to think of them as urban pests or rats with wings. But not Courtney Humphries. She's a science writer with a soft spot for pigeons. She's also the author of, Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan and The World and she was in Boston.

Phone - a - Friend

Sometimes The Current's Friday hosts are asked to dig into their little black books and call up a friend.

And since we've spent the morning talking about the environment and what each of us can do to inspire change, David thought that he would give Sarah Harmer a call. She's a singer-songwriter who's channeled her passion for music into action for the environment. Among other things, she's trying to prevent the licensing of a new quarry on the Niagara Escarpment in Southwestern Ontario an area not far from where she grew up on her family's farm.

She's founded a group called PERL, or Protected Escarpment Rural Land and she was in Kingston, Ontario.


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